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Leahy Says Executive Order Is Good First Step On Guns, Wants More From Congress

Andy Duback
Sen. Patrick Leahy at the Vermont Statehouse, Thursday during Gov. Shumlin's last State of the State address. Leahy says he supports the President's executive order expanding background checks on guns, but wants further action to be taken by Congress.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he supports President Obama's executive order to expand the use of background checks for gun purchases.

Leahy wants Congress to consider much more comprehensive gun control legislation.

Currently, gun dealers with federal licenses are required to conduct a background check on an individual before selling this person a firearm. The provision applies to retail sales and sales at gun shows.

There are sellers at gun shows who are exempt from this requirement. They're people who have gun collections and they're at the show to "add or subtract from their collection."

The President's executive order is designed to separate these hobbyists from people who often sell guns at the shows but have failed to obtain a federal license.

Senator Leahy says the President's plan is a good first step but he remains committed to a bill that requires all sellers at gun shows to conduct a background check.  

"The President is left with having to do what little he could [on guns]." — Sen. Patrick Leahy

The legislation also enhances penalties for anyone who buys a gun for another person and it prohibits anyone on the so-called "terrorist no-fly list" from buying a weapon.

Leahy says the legislation never came up for a vote on the Senate floor because Republicans filibustered the bill.

"I think the President is left with having to do what little he could," Leahy explained. "I think he would have much preferred to seeing the legislation I passed."

Opponents of the President's plan argue that there are currently penalties in place for people who frequently sell weapons at a gun show without a federal license and for people who knowingly purchase guns for another person.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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